It doesn't happen often that two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks face one another, but that's what happens in tonight's Bowl Championship Series national title game when 2008 winner Sam Bradford leads Oklahoma against 2007 winner Tim Tebow and Florida. Both have mind-numbing numbers. Bradford, right, has completed 302 of 442 passes (68.3 percent) for 4,464 yards and 48 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Tebow, bottom right, is 174-for-268 (64.9 percent) for 2,515 yards and 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions; he has 564 yards rushing and 12 scores. But how do they compare? Well, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, himself a pretty fair quarterback during his days at Ohio State, offered his analysis in three key areas:
That's the biggest misconception about these guys. I personally have seen Sam play a lot of football this year, and I think he has plenty of arm. What people don't appreciate with him, he doesn't throw a lot of deep balls, but he throws a tight spiral, has a quick release and has plenty of arm strength. With Tim, because of the style of play, the way he's physically built, the fact that he runs over the top of people, people don't appreciate what he does throwing the football. Yet if you go back and look at the last game the Gators played in, the SEC title game against Alabama, he made three or four crucial third downs that he wasn't running over the top of anybody; it was his arm. He's got plenty of arm strength to make the throws he needed to make.
They throw it where it needs to be thrown. … Sam is blessed to be in an offense that, right now, is almost like they're going against air. They pretty much do whatever they want to do. The running lanes are 5 feet wide. They make you come up and respect the run, and then they get one-on-one matchups on the outside and he has all day to throw the football. I don't know if I've seen a grass stain on his jersey this year. He's just been untouched. He's incredibly accurate. I'm anxious to see when he goes up against the best defense that he's faced all year how he'll respond and how the offense will respond to the speed and the tenacity that Florida will bring to the table. Tim's ability to run it really forces defenses to play a little more conservatively on the outside. He's so dynamic and so physical, his style takes away from people appreciating his throwing. If he were 190 pounds and he was out there dropping back and throwing the same passes, people would say, "Wow. This guy can really throw it."
For Sam, it's probably the one area he's grown the most, from watching him have a great year in '07 to having a great year in '08 — he's become more vocal. By nature, he's quiet, and being so young and being so good so early in his career, he let some of the other players be leaders (in 2007), but this year he realized he was the guy. I can't tell you how many times I've watched him pull guys around him (and talk), almost a Joe Montana thing. On the other side, you're watching a quarterback I think is redefining the intangibles of that position. I've never in my life seen a quarterback inspire, not just his linemen and skill players around him, but the defense, the special teams, the coaches, an entire fan base. … His humility, his work ethic, his competitiveness, it's all genuine. It's who he is. He's a once-in-a-lifetime-type leader. It's the thing that separates him from a lot of quarterbacks I've watched.